Risky surgery not always necessary to treat cervical disease

Revolutionary advancements in the treatment options for diseases associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) now include nonsurgical options such as chemoprevention and vaccines. A review of these methods is published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer.

The standard treatment to date has been to surgically remove the infected tissue, which puts patients at risk for reproductive consequences and does not ensure that all infected tissue has been eliminated. New methods such as chemoprevention and vaccines (used to treat and also prevent) now present possible cures without invasive means, thereby eliminating these risks.

Chemoprevention involves the use of micronutrients or pharmaceutical agents to delay or prevent the development of cancer from HPV in currently healthy patients. Progress and treatment of the infected tissues can be monitored through colposcopy, which is relatively noninvasive since the cervix is readily accessible.

Two distinct types of vaccines have been used. These include the prophylactic vaccine which focuses on human immune responses that may help prevent HPV infections. The other is a therapeutic vaccine which stimulates the immune responses to eliminate already infected cells.

Researchers comment that while surgery has been the standard treatment for HPV-related disease to date, other viral diseases are not treated in this way. More research is underway to review treatments and make further advancements in the way of nonsurgical options.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus affecting millions of women. It can cause gential warts and if left untreated, can also cause cervical cancer. According to the article, approximately 20 million people in the United States at any given time are infected and the numbers are significantly increasing throughout the world.

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